— October 5, 2018
Too often, marketers and marketing strategists speak of social media in too nebulous terms. The different platforms all draw different audiences and require a content strategy that targets our ideal avatar on that platform. This is true whether you are selling business consulting services, time management training services, or any other type of service, online or off.
Your ideal buyer displays different behaviors and interacts with content differently on all the various social platforms. This is why we want to spend some time today talking about just one specific platform: Instagram.
- What are the special considerations you need to make to engage an audience and maintain a following?
- What is the best way to organize your content so it tells the best story?
- What should your primary objectives be in terms of engagement and conversions?
These and other questions will be answered in detail along the way. If you stick with us to the end, you will have the ideal blueprint for a successful Instagram content marketing campaign and the confidence to start putting one together today.
1. Create a Clearly-Defined Content Delivery Plan
The purpose of using social media to promote your service-based business is to create connections. Your brand needs to be perceived as one that wants to:
- solve problems
- offer solutions
- show the value of your brand
- and tell the story of your brand in a way that relates directly to your ideal customer
Get that right and you will gain the trust and loyalty of your audience and, eventually, convert some to long-term loyal clients.
Start by plotting out a story that fills each block of nine squares on your feed. Keep in mind the 4,3,2 rule of marketing blogging – it seats well within Instagram’s native content delivery style. For those not in the know, the 4, 3, 2 rule is a variation on the classic 5,3,2 rule for social media marketing that applies to the most strategic approaches to engagement specifically on Instagram:
- Four posts that jab pain points, offer solutions and build value for your brand
- Three posts that encourage connections between your brand and your ideal client
- Just TWO posts that directly promote your service or attempt a conversion in any way
Using this formula, you will simultaneously improve your reputation with and get to know your audience. Modern buyers, particularly younger buyers, feel the need to have points of identity with any brand with which they choose to interact. The ones that get this part of the equation right are, by far, the most successful.
The order of delivery here also matters and we recommend trying these nine steps in order first:
- Promote: introduce your brand and build awareness of your service.
- Help: Target a common pain point, then promise (but don’t divulge) the solution.
- Connect: Use some curated content that reinforces your brand message as the basis for this post.
- Help: Start steering away from problems and toward solutions, but still mention the pain point.
- Promote: drive the solution from a relationship-building or personal interaction angle.
- Connect: Offer some social proof or case study that shows the effectiveness of your service. Include testimonials and personal accounts where you can but never embellish or fabricate.
- Help: Remind your prospects why they’re following you; keep the problem and the solution in front of them
- Connect: Instill confidence in your ability to solve or treat the problem
- Help: Remind followers that the solution exists and is accessible and make a clear call to action to mobilize in order to get it.
You can re-create this scenario with as many features, benefits, and (most importantly) pain points there are associated with your service.
2. Assemble Outstanding Visuals
Stock images work well if they aren’t already being commonly used for other purposes online. You never, for example, want to associate visuals that have been the fodder for memes as the foundation for any kind of serious marketing or branding.
Just because it’s popular, it doesn’t mean it makes your brand look good.
Use discretion when choosing your visuals and, whenever possible, select them first. Notice we haven’t talked yet about what your posts should look like?
Well, there’s a reason:
Instagram posts work best when they are built around the visuals; it makes the messaging look and feel more deliberate and focused.
Always select images that not only follow your story thematically, but also have similar colors and styles. You want all your images to look like they fit together. Your brand will be perceived as being as organized as your Instagram feed so take the time to select good visuals. This can be a little time-consuming, but the reward will likely far outweigh the effort.
While visuals are paramount, captions also are important for engaging the audience. If you are not a good writer and you don’t have one in your staff yet, consider hiring a freelance writer from online writing services.
3. Create Your Posts
Since we gave you the order above, let’s examine post creation by type in this segment. The order in which you should use your posts on your feed will become more clear once all your content is assembled. Don’t just “plug in” content. Decide where it fits in best as you go. Following the 4,3,2 rule:
Create four posts that build value – Share ways that your audience can start dealing with the issues your service aims to solve right away. Posts with a “how to” theme work well in this arena. At least one of the four in this group should offer some sort of social proof as a means of solidifying trust in the solution you are offering, and at least one should answer the question, “Why should I trust you?”
Create three posts that help your audience connect with your brand – Candid images of your staff looking focused and enthusiastic as well as some other less-polished images and video work better here than stock images, but keep quality and brand consistency in mind when using snapshots as part of your business Instagram.
Humor and levity help make people feel comfortable with your content and your brand, too, so use these elements in correlation with your brand identity and what you know about your ideal buyer.
Create two posts that sell – Be sure to save your most compelling visuals for these posts since they can have a particular influence on conversion behaviors. You want your audience to be excited about the prospect of you helping them, so don’t disappoint with these posts. If there is any place in this plan where it is imperative to bring your A-game, it’s here.
If you want people to heed your calls to action, you must leave them feeling as comfortable with and confident in the decision to do so as possible. On Instagram, you’re going to instill that confidence visually far more than you ever will with words. Again, choose the visuals, then write the post. Let the pictures make the bulk of the appeal.
Time Management and Consistency
As a final note, we’d like to address what is likely the biggest elephant in the room with this (and any other) project: time. Sometimes, the toughest part of all of this is finding the time to do it all.
When you start taking a big picture approach to market your service, the necessity for good time management becomes clear.
If you find that the task of keeping up with your Business on Instagram (or any other marketing strategy you currently employ for your business), you might want to consider one of the many time management workshops or online productivity training programs available to both individuals and businesses.
Lastly, remember that the only way your Instagram strategy will work long-term is if it is consistent long-term. That means committing the time necessary to deliver a steady stream of content that follows the above-outlined formula and duplicating your successes again and again with new campaigns.